Sympathy for the Devil

Nicolas Cage and Joel Kinnaman in Sympathy for the Devil (2023).
RLJE Films
Joel Kinnaman and Nicolas Cage star in Yuval Adler’s film, Sympathy for the Devil. A suspenseful, mumblecore noir-thriller that relies heavily on the film's stars sparring with dialogue and uncovering some disheartening truths about their seemingly random encounter in the middle of the night in Las Vegas.

A short and sweet thriller set on the outskirts of the strip in Las Vegas, Sympathy for the Devil opens with a scenario that would put any domesticated father on edge. Joel Kinnaman’s nameless driver character is searching for parking at the hospital while his wife is inside in labor. Another nameless man (Cage), who hops in his back seat while the car is stopped, holds him at gunpoint and tells him to drive. From there, we go deep into the desert night with these two. Spending the first third of the film in the car with the passenger and interrogating the driver. We then spend a solid twenty minutes at a diner with the two of them going down a wormhole of their pasts that could uncover why their paths have crossed.

Joel Kinnaman plays a dialed-back character quite well. His energy matches really well with Cage's, giving us shades of his roles in Vampires Kiss, Deadfall, and parts of Face-Off. He is unhinged as he physically and psychologically breaks down his hostage. Delivering his best Edward G. Robinson imitation and murdering anyone but his hostage just to prove a point about how dangerous he is. If you wanted an off-the-wall Cage performance, Sympathy for the Devil is right up your alley. The two actors build the payoff to their climactic altercation quite well. The film moves like a play, with a reveal of what’s truly going on with these two that is bound to spark discussion after the credits roll.

From a technical standpoint, Sympathy for the Devil captures the atmosphere of the story quite well in its visuals. Loaded with a diverse color palette that suits the title of the film. A lot of red appears in the film. From the diner, the two sit in, plus Cage's wardrobe gives us shades of the devil or a low-end magician who never made it in Vegas.

Sympathy for the Devil is an entertaining watch, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Cage is uncontained in all of his scenes, and maybe he should have dialed it back in some. Regardless, there's a great tone to the film that draws you in and then burns you the further it goes. With a film set in Sin City, you feel soaked in a bit of sin after watching it.

Watch Sympathy for the Devil